Alumni Spotlight: Natalie Burns


Natalie is a recent graduate from Binghamton University with a degree in Business Administration & concentration in Marketing. She is currently pursuing a career in digital marketing with aspirations to move abroad.


Why did you choose this program?

CEA works closely with my university & provided the opportunity to intern abroad the summer after my graduation. The pandemic had limited my ability to travel before then. Still unclear on a career choice, it felt like the perfect transition from college into a full-time job. My interest in Spain primarily stemmed from having a basic understanding of the Spanish language.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

Originally, I pursued a SUNY program before ultimately moving forward with CEA. Both my university & CEA staff helped me make the transition between the two programs. As my departure date approached, CEA ensured that my housing accommodations & documents, including insurance & vaccinations, were squared away. My flight was one aspect of the trip that I was responsible for organizing.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Though I highly suggest to do some research on cultural differences between your home & host country, I would also advise remaining open-minded as it is incredibly hard to envision what your experience will be like abroad. It is important to remember that if something is different than what you are used to, it does not equate to it being bad, or worse.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

It varies person to person, given that each participant is likely to have a very unique internship placement. Personally, my internship was a hybrid format with a nonprofit organization using sports as a means for development. I typically started my day by seeking out a nearby café with WIFI to conduct some marketing research, then I would return to my apartment for a delicious home-cooked meal by my host mom, take a siesta to avoid the afternoon heat, & venture out later at night for soccer practice in nearby neighborhoods. A few times throughout the week, other program participants & I would get together for dinner, gelato, or CEA led activities, like bike tours. There was never a dull moment.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I often deal with high levels of stress & anxiety, especially with changes in environment, so I feared that studying abroad would be difficult on me mentally. Fortunately, my experience was anything but stressful; it was very empowering. I was placed outside of my comfort zone & amazed by what I was able to accomplish. It was extremely beneficial to be in an apartment with four other lovely girls going through the same experience & to have on-site CEA staff for support. Moving forward, I refrain from doubting myself, as I have seen what I am capable of in the face of adversity.

Write and answer your own question.

Two pieces of additional advice I would like to offer are: pack less & make friends with the locals! Undoubtedly, you will spend time shopping, maybe redefining your style with a little cultural influence, & find little memoirs that you would like to bring back home with you. Also, there is no better way to learn about your host city & language than at the hands of someone who has lived there their whole life. With regard to Spain, specifically, people are extremely friendly & know all the best places to eat, or watch the sun rise/set.